Under the newly amended Toxic Substances and Control Act (TSCA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is given the authority to obtain data and information on chemicals, conduct risk evaluations, and impose a range of restrictions on those deemed to pose an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment. At the same time, the amended law curtails the states’ previous authority to take action to restrict chemicals in important respects.
As the EPA must create a final rule establishing a screening process that includes criteria for prioritizing chemical substances for further risk evaluation, NRDC recommends setting guidelines for procedural steps necessary to ensure public participation and input in the prioritization process. We also focus on recommendations for methodological requirements that should be included in future guidance documents or other arenas in which prioritization methods are discussed. These comments and recommendations ultimately seek to assist the EPA in fully upholding the law and fulfilling its mission to “protect human health and the environment.”
When it comes to the states’ diminished authority to restrict toxic chemicals, the EPA must do the best job possible to ensure that its work meets the highest standards for evaluating chemicals and protecting the public. The agency should immediately and clearly delineate its independence from the influence of the chemical industry, which has for too long hindered, haggled, and hounded the EPA. Our comments on this topic are intended to offer the EPA advice on key steps for making the most of the amended TSCA to fulfill its purpose.